History Of Erorica (Part 1): The Ancient World

Part 1 of our series on the History of Erotica begins in the Ancient World.

The modern world’s window into Ancient Erotica began with the excavation of Pompeii and the discovery of Erotic art in the form of paintings and statues in 1752.

Amongst the finds was the shocking statue of the Roman God Pan having intercouse with a female goat.

Subsequent discoveries continued to challenge Victorian notions and sensibilities about morality in antiquity.

Such discoveries were made in Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt and off course India with the Kama Sutra.

In Mesopotamia votive figures showing sexual penetration were common and it is thought that a significant number of them were used in ritual Sex at the Temple of Inanna, the Goddess of Fertility.

Egyptian Erotica on the other hand did not reach the level of high art and was usually in the form of graffiti, mainly for pure entertainment and amusement.

Greek Erotica was quite advanced where it appeared on painted pottery and ceramics depicting sexual scenes from everyday life.

Japanese Shunga Erotica art was extremely popular and it depicted intercourse on woodblock prints and painted hand scrolls.

Ancient Attitudes Towards Erotica

Erotica in the Ancient world was not regarded as subversive because sexuality was embraced as a normal element of everyday life which could be expressed in Art.

As such, Erotica in the Ancient world did not bear the stigma of the label ‘Pornography’ which was not a concept that existed at the time because sex was not treated as taboo.

The Victorian era invented the term ‘Pornography’ by banning or restricting access to Erotica which was treated as immoral presumably because it appealed to the more ‘base’ instincts of man.

This was the complete opposite in the Ancient world where sexual desire was regarded as a normal and necessary part of enjoying a fullfilling life, particularly in marriage.

For this reason, Erotica could be publicly displayed and its uses went beyond mere physical sexual gratification.

Erotica has thus been part of Civilization from the earliest Cultures, and its presence from the Ancient World has carried on.

It would be the invention of the Printing Press that would lead to a revolution in its distribution and social functions as Photography would become instrumental in the Enlightenment era, serving as a means to attack the Nobility and transform Society in the French Revolution

You can check out Part 1 of the BBC Documentary Pornography: The Secret History Of Civilization on Erotica in the Ancient World.

Also check out Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 on the History of Erotica as well as the discussion on the Porn Agenda and social effects of modern Porn.

A gallery of Ancient Erotica is also included below.